Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 823


1) Papua governor keen on autonomy law

Posted at 03:31 on 15 March, 2013 UTC

The newly elected governor of Indonesia’s Papua province Lukas Enembe has vowed to improve the implementation of Papua’s Special Autonomy Law.

The Jakarta Post reports that Mr Enembe said improvements were necessary as many Papuans continued to complain about the lack of benefits from being granted Special Autonomy status in 2001.

The Special Autonomy Law was intended to guarantee the delivery of basic services in Papua region.

However despite large budgets to the region’s bureaucracies, Special Autonomy has been poorly implemented and broadly rejected by West Papuans.

Mr Enembe said his first priority as Governor was to handle the obstacles holding Special Autonomy back.

He says he has informed Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about his plans.

Radio New Zealand International

2) PNG PM blasts officials over dodgy leases

Updated 15 March 2013, 8:06 AEST
PNG correspondent Liam Fox

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister has blasted his public service over the granting of controversial leases covering more than 10 per cent of the country.

Critics say the leases are a back-door way to clear-fell forests and many have been granted without the permission of traditional owners. (Credit: ABC licensed)

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister has blasted his public service over the granting of controversial leases covering more than 10 per cent of the country.

In recent years more than 70 Special Agricultural and Business Leases, or SABLs, have been granted covering more than five million hectares.

Critics say the leases are a back-door way to clear-fell forests and many have been granted without the permission of traditional owners.

Greenpeace campaigner in PNG, Sam Moko, says they welcome the prime minister’s comments.

“SABLs, over the years, were mainly issued through corruption and fraud,” he said.

“A lot of the SABLs that are issued are issued to foreign owned companies, and it doesn’t leave any benefits to the customary landowners.

“5.5 million hectares of land is a lot of land given away without proper procedures.”

A Commission of Inquiry that’s been investigating the leases has handed its interim report to the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

In a statement he says some agencies have failed to administer the law and “developers have enjoyed a free run”.

Mr O’Neill says he’ll table the report in the next sitting of parliament and also announce measures to improve the integrity of the public service.

The Commission’s final report, which will examine each SABL, is due to be finalised in two months time.

3) Solomons PM May Face Misconduct Accusations Next Week
Darcy Lilo allegedly involved in extramarital affair

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 14, 2013) – The Leadership Code Commission in Solomon Islands could consider the sexual misconduct complaint against the Prime Minister as early as next week, following the appointment of two commissioners to the anti-corruption body.

The group Forum Solomon Islands International made a complaint in January alleging Gordon Darcy Lilo had an extramarital affair but the Commission couldn’t deal with it until it replaced two members whose terms had expired last year.

The chairperson of the Leadership Code Commission Emmanuel Kouhata says two new commissioners have been sworn-in and the Commission should have its first meeting next week.

He says there’s no guarantee the Commission will launch an investigation.

“We are hoping that the allegation against the prime minister and other allegations against other leaders would be put before the Commission during that meeting. The Commission has to decide whether the complaint or the allegation falls within the powers of the Commission to investigate that allegation.”

Emmanuel Kouhata says the Commission has to consider whether a leader has engaged in any act which might diminish his office.

Radio New Zealand International:

4) Vanuatu Finance Minister Presents $261 Million Budget
Health, education sectors to receive substantial portion

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 14, 2013) – Vanuatu Minister of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) Charlot Salwai tabled and introduced the Bill for the Appropriation 2013 Act No. 0f 2013 in Parliament chambers yesterday afternoon to obtain Parliament approval and authorization to appropriate funds totaling Vt24,075,287,381 [US$261 million].

Reaffirming its investment in the education and health sectors the Ministries of Education and Health get the biggest share in the budget.

The figure, a 25% increase from 2012’s Vt16 billion [US$173.5 million] budget will facilitate Government services in the financial year of January 1 to December 31, 2013.

Minister Salwai said the latest forecast on the domestic economic outlook in Vanuatu revealed its economy grew a mere 2.5% in 2012.

“Our economy is showing some signs of growth, forecasts say it will grow at 3.6% in 2013 and will increase over the medium term,” he said. He identified the delay of implementation of major projects as the key risk which can hamper economic growth and slow global economic recovery another.

“It is vital the Government creates confidence in its economy to ensure activities which stimulate growth,” he said.

“It is important for the government to work together with its partners to fast track major pending projects be implemented immediately without further delay.

“To create a good business environment the government must look at infrastructure issues and access to land, access to credit and building Vanuatu’s human resource capacity.

“There is also a big need to look at the structure of the government machinery and how it is delivering services to the people, restructure and strengthen the key constitutional institutions, Parliamentary Committee, Ombudsman, Auditor General, Judiciary, Public Prosecutor and Security to work effectively and garner the confidence of the Public and Private sector. It is also important for the government to provide adequate resources and facilities for these institutions.”

Minister Salwai said political reform is also a “must” at all times to cut down on costs of instability and give confidence to investors.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

5) Vanuatu Opposition To Raise Issues At No-Confidence Debate
Natapei says Kilman owes explanation over Phocea, diplomat issues

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 14, 2013) – The Vanuatu opposition leader, Edward Natapei, says he has confirmation that next Thursday a no-confidence motion against Sato Kilman’s government will be debated.

While conceding that his side may not have the numbers to topple the government, Mr. Natapei says, among other things, the affairs surrounding the superyacht Phocea have damaged Vanuatu’s reputation.

Mr. Natapei says eight points will be raised.

He says the prime minister owes the nation an explanation about his financial dealings with former and current diplomatic passport holders.

“The prime minister’s failure to reply in an honest manner when questioned over the reception of funds from a gentleman, called Pascal Anh Quan Saken.”

Vanuatu’s opposition leader, Edward Natapei, says publicity around the Phocea, owned by Mr. Saken, has been negative.

Radio New Zealand International:

6) Vanuatu government presents motion to suspend Regenvanu over no-confidence move
By Online Editor
1:34 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s coalition government has deposited a counter motion to suspend an opposition MP from parliament after he and his colleagues deposited a motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

The speaker of parliament, George Wells has listed the opposition’s motion against PM Kilman to be debated next Tuesday afternoon.

The speaker also confirmed that the Kilman government today deposited a counter motion to suspend the Port Vila MP, Ralph Regenvanu.

The coalition accuses Regenvanu of destabilising the country by presenting no-confidence motions when the opposition hasn’t got the number in parliament to vote it through.

As parliament resumed this week, the opposition appeared to have only 16 MPs in the 52-seat house.

The motion against  Kilman is to be debated before the counter motion against Regenvanu next week.


7) Vanuatu churches oppose government’s Papua stance

By Online Editor
4:20 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Vanuatu

The Chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council says it hopes the government will take heed of the nation’s sentiments on the West Papua issue.

Vanuatu’s Anglican Bishop, James Ligo, says at its just completed general assembly in Honiara, the Pacific Council of Churches passed a resolution for the World Council of Churches to pressure the United Nations to send a monitoring team to Indonesia’s Papua region.

Ni-Vanuatu have long voiced strong support for West Papuan rights but Bishop Ligo says government policy doesn’t reflect this.

“We know that Vanuatu has taken a side-step on that (the west Papua issue) and we know that our government supported Indonesia’s observer status on the MSG, we know that. But again, we also believe that as churches we have the right to advocate and continue to remind our countries and our leaders to be concerned about our West Papuan brothers and sisters who are suffering every day.”

Meanwhile, the Daily Post reports that Vanuatu’s opposition has called on the Prime Minister Sato Kilman to withdraw an agreement recently signed with Jakarta and to review Indonesia’s observer status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The opposition supports the West Papuan application to become a full member of the MSG at the upcoming meeting in New Caledonia in July.


8) Vanuatu opposition leader outlines reasons for motion to remove PM

Posted at 01:41 on 15 March, 2013 UTC

The Vanuatu opposition leader, Edward Natapei, says he has confirmation that next Thursday a no confidence motion against Sato Kilman’s government will be debated.

While conceding that his side may not have the numbers to topple the government, Mr Natapei says, among other things, the affairs surrounding the superyacht Phocea have damaged Vanuatu’s reputation.

In all, he says, the motion is based on eight points.

“The first one being in relation to the Foreign Minister’s visit to Papua New Guinea which was an embarrassment to us. If you remember correctly, I called on the Prime Minister to deal with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on this issue; he has not been able to deal with him and therefore we felt that was a failure on his part.”

“The second issue is the failure of the Prime Minister to handle with confidence and efficiency, matters concerning the vessel Phocea which – with the continued media attention – is eroding the sovereign respect that the Republic of Vanuatu once enjoyed.”

“The third is in relation to the Prime Minister’s failure to reply in an honest manner over the reception of funds from a gentleman called Pascal Ahn Quan Saken. We have of course got hold of evidence that funds actually were donated towards the current Prime Minister’s campaign and that came from the media.”

“The fourth issue is in relation to the Prime Minister’s close association with Vanuatu’s roving ambassador Madame Goiset and the nature of her commissioning arrangements which cause embarrassment to the Republic of Vanuatu. Madame Goiset has already been caught trying to submit large amounts of cash out of New Caledonia.”

“Now, the fifth one is the failure of the Prime Minister to stem corrupt practices within the civil service. Of particular note is the recent awarding of responsibility for dealing with visa applications to an entity involving a director-general by the Immigration Department under the same director-general.”

“The sixth point being the failure of the Prime Minister to recognise the lack of funding for many basic needs of the people of Vanuatu when he agreed to continue to build a convention centre using donor funds despite the country already having international class facilities.”

“The seventh point is that the Prime Minister’s office publicly criticised the republic’s custom chiefs for voicing their concern about the direction the Prime Minister is taking the Republic of Vanuatu.”

“The last point is that the honourable Prime MInister has placed his own interests above the nation’s national and international interest and its sovereign integrity and credibility, and as such has not displayed the proper and required leadership qualities of a Prime Minister.”

The Vanuatu opposition leader, Edward Natapei

Radio New Zealand International

9) New Caledonia’s Yanno poised to form new party

By Online Editor
1:28 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, New Caledonia

The split within New Caledonia’s once dominant anti-independence party is set to lead to the formation of a new party.

This comes after last month’s decision by the leader of the Rassemblement-UMP, Pierre Frogier, to suspend his deputy, Gael Yanno, and the party’s acting secretary general, Sonia Backes, who is also the territorial government’s official spokesperson.

Noumea’s daily newspaper said Yanno now wants to create his own party.

The Rassemblement-UMP is the successor party to the RPCR, which signed the 1998 Noumea Accord.

In the lead-up to the 2004 election, it suffered a major setback, which was repeated in the last election, and last year it lost the territory’s two seats in the French National Assembly to the rival anti-independence Caledonia Together Party.

One of the seats had been held by Yanno.

Repeated French attempts to reunite the increasingly fractured anti-independence camp have been unsuccessful.


10) Wrong to say Fiji making progress towards democracy says New Zealand union official

Posted at 03:32 on 15 March, 2013 UTC

The secretary of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions says the government is wrong to say Fiji is making progress towards democracy in view of the derailment of the constitution process.

Peter Conway made the comment at a Wellington protest over the torture of Fiji prisoners caught on video and posted online.

The nine-minute video shows two tied-up men being beaten and sexually abused by what the regime calls Fijian security personnel.

Mr Conway says New Zealand’s foreign minister’s description of Fiji having taken a step backwards is lame.

“It is lame. I can appreciate for him it’s a question of what do you do, how do you influence this military dictatorship. But it seems the softly, softly approach is not really working and for the government to put faith and money into a constitutional review process and really see that process trashed I think sends a very strong signal.”

Peter Conway says the New Zealand government must now look at how it is going to offer greater support to those organisations working towards a return to genuine democracy in Fiji.

Radio New Zealand International

11) No development with previous constitutions, govt: Fiji PM

By Online Editor
4:49 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has said that previous Constitutions and governments have not been effective in addressing people’s needs.

He said that unlike previous governments, “we keep our promises. We deliver” adding that the previous Constitutions, although having provisions to cater for development in all parts of Fiji made no progress.

Bainimarama made the comments while opening the newly-upgraded Rabi Health Centre today.

“And this is especially appreciated by people in the North, many of whom have felt badly neglected in the past.

“In previous constitutions, we had the so-called entrenched provisions – the Rabi Island Act, the Rotuma Island Act and so on but there was no tangible progress, no development. What we are determined to do is give them the things they need to empower them – better access to telecommunications, better access to affordable higher education, access to legal aid services, skills training for our young people and better and affordable housing.”

He said unlike his predecessors the work done by his government has been recognised and acknowledged.

“People have been saying to me in various parts of Fiji that why have an election at all next year? We’re happy with things the way they are,” Bainimarama said.

He further said that his government is building a new Fiji based on equality for everyone and a country where children grow up with same opportunities.

“Our program is on track. We know where we’re heading and it’s towards building a better Fiji for everyone.”.


12) Labour’s Challenge Of Fiji Parties Decree Dismissed
Justice decree allegedly does not allow for legal challenges

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 14, 2013) – The Fiji Labour Party’s legal challenge of the Registration of Political Parties Decree has been dismissed in the High Court.

The lawyer of the proposed Labour Party, Anand Singh, claimed the decree was in breach of international conventions.

But the Fiji Village website reports the case was dismissed by Justice Anjala Wati, who said under the Administration of Justice Decree there can be no legal challenge of a decree.

The court has ordered the proposed political party to pay about US$800 to the Attorney General’s Office in costs.

Under the terms of the political parties decree, existing parties had to apply for re-registration by mid-February.

So far, the regime has not said if any party has been successful.

Radio New Zealand International:

13) Fijians In New Zealand To Stage Protest Over Video Brutality
Residents choose public march to voice concerns

By Mereani Gonedua

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, March 14, 2013) – Fijians living in New Zealand will march tomorrow in Auckland and in Wellington in protest against the security force brutality in Fiji.

NewsTalk ZB reports that the march will take place in Auckland on Queen Street at 1pm and another outside the Fiji embassy in Wellington.

The march will also include New Zealanders, MPs, trade unionists and representatives from Amnesty International who will protest as a way of voicing their concern regarding the recent brutality video which was released last Tuesday on the internet.

The nine-minute video shows a group of men abusing two tied-up individuals.

It also shows the license plate of a pick-up truck, on which one of the tied-up men was beaten and stripped.

Police identified the victims as “recaptured prisoners” and the assailants as “security personnel,” but declined to elaborate more pending an investigation.

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama leapt to the defense of the men saying they were only doing their duty to ensure all Fijians sleep peacefully at night.

On Tuesday, the Fiji Corrections Services sent home two officers in relation to the video.

The FCS said they had also disciplined other officers over the September 2012 prison break-out.


14) EU to review aid assistance to Fiji
By Online Editor
4:33 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Fiji

The European Union (EU) will be reviewing its aid assistance to Fiji.

The Head of the EU delegation to the Pacific Andrew Jacobs said a mid-review will be done this month, while a bigger review will be done in September.

“What we would like to do is to be able to re-activate support that we can provide through the authorities. That will depend on a positive review of the democratic process leading to the elections.”

The EU’s aid assistance to the Fiji government has been suspended since 2009 pending Fiji’s return to democracy.

Meanwhile, the European Union Delegation for the Pacific is deeply disturbed by a video published recently on the internet containing graphic evidence of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment used against two men in handcuffs, suspected to be escaped prisoners.

In a statement, it said torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment represent grave violations of human rights and are prohibited under customary international law.

“Such acts can never be justified. The EU Delegation welcomes the investigation that has been launched and call on the police to ensure it is conducted in a thorough and transparent manner, bringing the perpetrators rapidly to justice,” the EU statement said.

“The EU works for the eradication of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment throughout the world. The EU Delegation encourages the early signature by Fiji of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”.



15) Two Tongan Lords face charges in court
By Online Editor
09:11 am GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Tonga

Two Tongan Lords, including the current Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga and a former Speaker, have pending court cases at the Nuku’alofa Magistrate’s Court, after being charged with offences of illegal possession of arms and ammunitions.

Lord Tu’iha’ateiho the current Deputy Speaker and a Ha’apai Noble’s Representative to the Legislative Assembly is charged with one count of illegal possession of a firearm.

The Acting Solicitor General Sione Sisifa said a meeting in chambers will be held on Friday 22 March 2013 to fix a date for a Preliminary Inquiry at the Nuku’alofa Magistrate’s Court.

In the meantime, the Crown had formally withdrawn two drugs charges against Lord Tu’ilakepa, a current Vava’u Noble’s Representative and former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

He said Lord Tu’ilakepa remained charged with four counts of possession of illegal arms and possession of illegal ammunitions pending at the lower court. At this stage no date has been set in court because his counsel Mana Kaufusi is said to be ill, he said.

The withdrawn charges were for possession of an illicit drug and conspiracy to the importation of illicit drug that resulted from a transnational investigation into illicit drugs conducted in Tonga and Australia.

In February, the Crown revealed it would drop the drugs charges against Lord Tu’ilakepa because of the complexity of the case and also, because key evidence gathered from telephone interceptions was done outside of the Tongan law.


16) Wallis and Futuna to elect French National Assembly member

Posted at 03:32 on 15 March, 2013 UTC

Voters in Wallis and Futuna will go to the polls on Sunday to elect the territory’s sole member of the French National Assembly.

This follows a French constitutional court ruling in January which annulled last year’s result recorded in Wallis and Futuna.

The winner, David Verge, was found guilty of irregularities in his campaign account and banned from running for office for a year.

Among the candidates are his wife Lauriane Verge, who is the territory’s first woman to run for the Paris seat.

The others are Mikaele Kulimoetoke, a retired policeman who was narrowly defeated by Mr Verge last year, and Napole Polutele who is a teacher backed by a majority of the territorial assembly.

Radio New Zealand International

17) Samoa Police To Conduct Public Opinion Polls
Survey will ask if public feels safe around police

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, March 14, 2013) – Samoa’s Police wants to hear residents’ views of them, and they’ve hooked up with the Bureau of Statistics to help them find out.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Ministry of Police & Prison and the Bureau of Statistic this morning for that purpose.

The MOU endorses the bureau to carry out a community perception survey on the service rendered by police.

The survey will be based on the views by members of the public on whether they are satisfied by the service offered by police or not, said Malaefono Taua, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the bureau.

“Information such as whether they feel secure around the police or any complaints against the service will be compiled in a special report,” said Taua.

He said the results of the survey will guide the Ministry of Police on what needs to be addressed.

An internal survey will also be conducted within the Police as to whether the staff are well treated or happy in the workplace environment.

The results are expected to be presented in the next three years and to coincide with the Ministry of Police’s corporate plan 2013-2016.

All information gathered will be confidential and not even the Ministry will know who commented on what.

“Once the report is ready, we will burn all material collected from individuals to ensure confidentiality of the survey,” said Taua.

In the survey the Australian Federation of Police is a partner under the leadership of Andrew Warton.



18) Nauru court to rule on parliament recall
By Online Editor
1:51 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2013, Nauru

The Supreme Court in Nauru is expected to make a judgement on whether the country’s Parliament will have to reconvene.

The Supreme Court in Nauru is expected to make a judgement on whether the country’s Parliament will have to reconvene.

It follows an announcement this week by President Sprent Dedwido that Parliament has been dissolved and a national election will be held on 06 April

Earlier this month the Speaker of the House, Ludwig Scotty, ordered Parliament be dissolved indefinitely, citing continuing unruly behaviour by MPs.

The order was challenged in the Supreme Court by members of parliament who argued the adjournment was unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames ruled in favour of their appeal.

Speaker Ludwig Scotty has so far refused the court’s order to convene a meeting of Parliament to debate the dissolution notice.

Justice Eames is expected to rule on Friday on whether Parliament will be recalled.

If Parliament does have to reconvene, it will most likely delay the proposed election.


19) U.S. Senators Strike Down $120 Million Guam Funding
Guam must find money for wastewater infrastructure elsewhere

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 15, 2013) – The move to bring Guam’s wastewater treatment facilities up to federal standards could take longer and come at a higher cost to ratepayers following action taken by the U.S. Senate.

Yesterday, senators approved an amendment by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to remove $120 million in funding for Guam infrastructure.

The money would have been appropriated by House Resolution 933, a defense appropriations bill.

But after McCain and his fellow Republican Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma railed against the proposal, the Senate adopted language that cut the money from the final budget.

The money provided by the bill would have been used to move Guam’s wastewater treatment plants from primary to secondary treatment.

The move to secondary treatment is mandated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

That means the Guam Waterworks Authority has no choice but to upgrade its systems. The only question is who’s going to pay for it.

Now that the federal money’s been nixed, Simon Sanchez, the chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, said it will affect both the move’s timeline and what it will cost consumers.

“We have the opportunity to go much quicker and save ratepayer money,” he said. “I’m disappointed McCain doesn’t support it.”

Sanchez expressed his chagrin at McCain’s opposition to the funding, considering the need to improve the island’s infrastructure in preparation for the buildup.

Delegate ‘appalled’

In response to the amendment’s passage, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said she was “appalled that Sen. McCain continues to use funding for Guam projects as an example of ‘pork barrel’ spending.”

“McCain blurred reality in his statements on the floor of the Senate and muddled the importance of this investment,” the delegate said in a statement. “Moreover, Sen. McCain insisted on an earmark to (Center for Strategic & International Studies) to develop an independent assessment of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.”

Gov. Eddie Calvo also fired back at McCain, saying the senator’s actions are par for the course for his opinions of Guam.

“It’s obvious that he considers Guam more a piece of property rather than Americans,” said Calvo. “It’s in line with his consistent belief in the exploitation of our people and our property without spending a single penny of monies to deal with the issues that are affecting our community.”

In her statement, Bordallo noted that she would continue to push for the funds to improve the island’s infrastructure, something Sanchez said still needed to be done.

Calvo, too, pointed out the need to “continue to push.”

“We’ve got to continue to press and press and hopefully from different areas, we can put enough pressure so that the other members of the Senate will hopefully look towards going counter to this constant opposition, consistent from Sen. McCain,” he said.

Yesterday, Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. wrote to McCain, encouraging him to revisit the issue and restore the money to fund Guam’s infrastructure.

“The fact remains that the success of the Marine relocation will depend on a robust local infrastructure with the capacity to meet additional demand,” said Aguon. “It is my believe that the maintenance of strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in light of growing threat from China and North Korea should remain our nation’s imperative.

Pacific Daily News:


20) Beattie: 457 visa debate ‘destructive’ for Australia

Updated 15 March 2013, 14:10 AEST
By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths

Former Queensland Labor premier Peter Beattie warns the PM to be “very cautious” when raising the issue of foreign workers.

Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie warns the debate about 457 visas needs to be handled carefully. (Credit: ABC)
Image: Peter Beattie at the ALP national conference.

Former Queensland Labor premier Peter Beattie has warned Prime Minister Julia Gillard to be “very cautious” about sparking a “destructive” debate on foreign workers.

Yesterday Ms Gillard intensified her calls for a crackdown on 457 visas, telling temporary overseas worker numbers were up 20 per cent compared with the same time last year, whereas employment growth for the period was only 1 per cent.

But Mr Beattie has warned Ms Gillard not to get drawn into a “destructive” national debate on the issue.

“I think we need to be very careful about the rhetoric,” he told ABC News 24.

“That debate can be a destructive one for Australia.

What is a 457 visa? Read our explainer

“We have to remember we’re a global economy. We do need 457 visas [in some areas], frankly because we can’t get the job done without them.”

The Government’s anti-457 push has also been slammed by the business sector, with the Australian Industry Group accusing the PM of opening the way for “xenophobic views” to infiltrate public debate.

“What we’ve seen through this debate is that a platform has been allowed to be built for people with quite xenophobic views, views that are hostile to migrants quite generally,” Ai Group chief executive officer Innes Willox told ABC News Online.

“They’ve been allowed to crawl out of the woodwork again as a result of this debate.”

457 visa numbers

2011-12 – 125,070
2009-10 – 67,980
2007-08 – 110,570
2003-04 – 39,500

Mr Willox says it amounts to “demonising” visa holders and their employers.

He says there is no evidence to back up the Government’s assertion that some businesses are rorting the system, saying that foreign workers are filling a genuine skills gap in some sectors.

Demographer and Government adviser Peter McDonald says the Prime Minister’s statement about overseas workers and the employment rate does not bear scrutiny.

He says that is because the retirement of baby boomers means Australia starts each year 140,000 workers short.

“If the labour force grows by 1 per cent as the Prime Minister says, that’s about 120,000 [people],” he said.

“So we take the 120,000 growth, 140,000 we have to make up, [making a] combined 260,000 new workers that we have to get into the labour force, and 457s make up about 40,000 of that.

“I think the way the Prime Minister expressed it about growth rates, not using numbers, was really statistically misleading.”

New Zealand:

21) NZ suffers worst drought in 30 years

Updated 15 March 2013, 13:18 AEST
New Zealand correspondent Dominique Schwartz

The New Zealand Government has announced that the entire North Island is now officially in a state of drought.

The New Zealand Government has announced that the entire North Island is now officially in a state of drought.

Drought has been declared in ever more regions of the North Island over the past four weeks.

The Primary Industries Minister, Nathan Guy, has announced on Friday that the whole of the island is officially drought-stricken, with farmers facing their worst conditions in 30 years.

Parts of the usually rain-soaked South Island are now on drought-watch.

Federated Farmers spokesman Tony Wilding, who runs a farm in the dairy heartland of Waikato on the North Island, says the impact on farmers has been devastating.

“It’s as dry as it ever has been since 1942,” he said.

“We’ve got 30 years of records and none of them come close to this.”

Mr Wilding says his farm has had only 23 millimetres of rain this year – an eighth of the average rainfall.

Milk production is down by a fifth in some areas, stock feed is being transported from the South to the North Island, and farmers are selling their animals.

Drought has already cost the country an estimated $1 billion.


22) François 1er : le nouveau souverain pontife bien accueilli dans le Pacifique

Posté à 15 March 2013, 8:19 AEST
Pierre Riant

Jorge Mario Bergoglio a été élu mercredi soir, à Rome, après un quatrième scrutin des cardinaux réunis en conclave.

C’est la première fois qu’un pape non-européen est élu depuis le 8ème siècle. (Credit: AFP)

Cet archevêque argentin de 76 ans sera appelé par le monde entier François 1er.  Dans le Pacifique, les réactions sont bonnes et le fait que ce nouveau pape jésuite ne vient pas d’un grand pays européen semble très apprécié.

La réaction de Père Michael O’Connor, recteur du Séminaire régional de Fidji à Suva.

O’CONNOR : « Je suis très content bien sûr d’avoir un nouveau pape et aussi surpris que nous soyons sortis de l’Europe, très content que nous soyons sortis de l’Europe. Cela reconnait que le foyer de la population de l’Église catholique est à l’extérieur de l’Europe. Et pour nous, [l’argentine] c’est aussi l’hémisphère sud et c’est donc un plus pour ce qui est de notre région. »

Pour le Premier ministre samoan Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, un pape argentin est une bonne nouvelle pour le Pacifique.

TUILAEPA : « Je suis moi-même un catholique d’un pays en développement et laissez-moi vous dire que je suis extrêmement content de voir un pape en provenance d’une nation en développement et tout spécialement d’Amérique du Sud. »çois-1er-le-nouveau-souverain-pontife-bien-accueilli-dans-le-pacifique/1101990

23)La vidéo des tortionnaires fidjiens domine l’actualité

Posté à 15 March 2013, 8:23 AEST
Pierre Riant

Face au silence du gouvernement australien, les Verts montent au créneau.

Shaista Shameem au centre. (Credit: Reuters)

Le Parlement néo-zélandais et la Commission des  Droits de l’Homme de l’ONU ont condamné cette vidéo mise en ligne la semaine dernière sur Internet montrant des membres des forces de sécurité fidjiennes en train de torturer deux hommes : un fugitif appréhendé et l’ami qui l’avait caché.

Les Verts ont maintenant demandé au gouvernement australien de suivre l’exemple de l’ONU et de la Nouvelle-Zélande.

Christine Milne est la dirigeante des Verts.

MILNE : « Ma question est : où est l’Australie ? Quelle est sa position sur ça? Sur Fidji ? Les Verts sont vivement opposés à la torture. Nous soutenons les conventions internationales sur les droits de l’homme et civils et nous voulons que le Parlement australien, les ministres et le gouvernement Gillard, prennent une position ferme. »

Peu de temps après cette intervention, nous apprenions que le Sénat australien a adopté une résolution (proposée par les Verts) condamnant la torture et “le traitement dégradant et inhumain” des victimes. Le sénat réclame la création d’une commission d’enquête indépendante.

Le Parlement néo-zélandais avait lui aussi auparavant  adopté une résolution condamnant la torture de prisonniers fidjiens et a demandé au gouvernement fidjien par intérim de condamner publiquement l’utilisation de la torture et de respecter le droit international.

Une résolution qualifiée d’absurde par le ministre des Affaires étrangères fidjien, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola : « Nous avons publiquement déclaré que l’enquête doit suivre son cours et le Parlement néo-zélandais n’a rien à voir dans cette enquête. »

Pour l’ONU, la vidéo établit clairement les faits et les résultats de l’enquête devraient être connus depuis longtemps.

L’ancienne responsable de la Commission des Droits de l’Homme fidjienne, Shaista Shameem, qui habite maintenant en Nouvelle-Zélande ne comprend pas pourquoi cette Commission n’a pas lancé automatiquement sa propre enquête.

SHAMEEM : « Conformément au décret des Droits de l’Homme, la Commission à pour responsabilité d’ouvrir une enquête sur toute allégations d’abus et de violations des droits de l’homme. Elle ne doit pas attendre le dépôt d’une plainte. Elle peut décider elle-même de lancer une enquête. »éo-des-tortionnaires-fidjiens-domine-lactualité/1101992

24)Un militant de Papouasie occidentale interpelle les députés du Vanuatu

Posté à 15 March 2013, 8:32 AEST
Pierre Riant

Benny Wenda s’est exprimé devant les parlementaires  le mercredi 13 mars pour que la province indonésienne de Papouasie ait un statut d’observateur au sein du Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance.

Le Vanuatu, a-t-il souligné, fournit depuis longtemps son aide et son assistance aux Mélanésiens de Papouasie qui ont dû quitter leur patrie.

Benny Wenda fait actuellement une tournée internationale pour tenter de sensibiliser l’opinion à la cause de la population mélanésienne de la province indonésienne qui lutte pour son autonomie.

M. Wenda a fait part de ses craintes à propos de l’augmentation de l’aide indonésienne au Vanuatu et se demande si cette aide n’a pas pour but de convaincre les dirigeants vanuatais de renoncer à soutenir les séparatistes.

Et de conclure : « La Papouasie occidentale, c’est une population mélanésienne. La Papouasie occidentale fait partie de la Mélanésie et l’Indonésie de l’Asie. »


25)Asia-Pacific facing water crisis: ADB

By Online Editor
1:36 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Philippines

Nearly two thirds of people in the Asia-Pacific region have no clean, piped water at home despite the region’s strong economic growth, according to a major report released on Wednesday.

Water security is a major concern for most countries in the region, but the problem is poor management and a lack of investment in infrastructure rather than short supplies, said the report released by the Asian Development Bank.

“What is lacking in Asia is good water governance,” Ranesh Vaidya, a water specialist from Nepal who helped prepare the report, told journalists at its launch at the ADB headquarters in Manila.

“There is a definite link between good governance and good water.”

Studies for the Asian Water Development Outlook report, prepared by the ADB and other research institutes, found that 37 out of 49 countries in the region had low levels of water security.

The percentage of Asia’s population with access to proper toilets had risen from 36 percent in 1990 to 58 percent in 2010, according to the report.

But that left 1.74 billion people without regular access to proper toilets, with nearly half of those still suffering “the indignity of practicing open defecation”.

It said most of those people were in South Asia.

In contrast, Southeast Asia and East Asia were described as “bright spots”, where access to proper toilets had expanded to at least 64 percent of their populations, the report said.

The report said 900 million people across the Asia-Pacific had gained access to clean, piped water from 1990 to 2010, describing this as an important achievement.

However 65 percent of people across the Asia Pacific still lived without secure household water supplies.

The situation was particularly dire in Pacific and South Asian nations where only 21 and 23 percent of their populations respectively had access to piped water.

“While the Asia-Pacific region has become an economic powerhouse, it is alarming that no developing country in the region can be considered water secure,” ADB vice president for sustainable development Bindu Lohani said.

“Countries must urgently improve water governance through inspired leadership and creative policy making.”

The report said US$59 billion needed to be spent across the region to get water supplies up to standard, and another US$71 billion to improve sanitation.



26)Agriculture scheme for troubled youth in Cook Islands
By Online Editor
4:13 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Cook Islands

An agricultural scheme to help troubled Cook Islands youth is up and running again with the help of the New Zealand High Commissioner.

A local grower started a successful programme last year to help youth on the wrong side of the law grow and market fruit and vegetables but it was forced to close after a lack of funding.

New Zealand High Commissioner John Carter publicized and helped fundraise NZD$80,000 to help start it up again.

The grower Teava Iro says he wont be taking a big group but has instead signed up two youth and is hoping to get the Ministry of Justice on board.

He told Cook Islands News that the skills pool in agriculture is dwindling and it’s something the country could tap into.


27) Tonga seeks better deal for migrant workers and students in free trade negotiations

By Online Editor
4:16 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Tonga

Increased opportunities for Tongan migrant workers and lower fees for students going to New Zealand and Australia, along with other development assistance goals, are among key advantages being sought by Tonga in its PACER Plus free trade negotiations.

The proposed free trade agreement between the Forum Island countries and Australia and New Zealand, known as PACER Plus, is being promoted by government and discussed with the local business community, in the midst of the current negotiations.

Over recent years, while the Tongan government has been supportive of PACER Plus, it has been developing proposals that will help Tonga maximise the benefits of signing up to the agreement.

Despite Tonga’s limited export capacity, the government has been steering its demands towards labour mobility and development assistance in exports.

Emigration is becoming increasingly recognised as paramount to Tonga’s financial recovery and economic future.

Tatafu Moeaki, the CEO for the Ministry of of Commerce, Tourism and Labour told Tonga’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries last week, that PACER Plus would help broaden Tonga’s economic base and give better rights to local businesses. He said the plan was meant to protect the interests of businesses and increase benefits.

He explained that some of Tonga’s proposals with Australia and New Zealand on PACER Plus included a higher immigration quota for Tongans moving to Australia and New Zealand, and the removal of international fees for Tongans studying in New Zealand.

Another proposal was expanding Tonga’s labour mobility schemes to New Zealand and Australia. For several years labourers from Tonga have been hired to work as fruit pickers in New Zealand on a seasonal basis, and the Tonga government hopes to negotiate to expand this temporary work force to include semi-skilled labourers.

He said that under a free trade agreement, businesses would no longer have to pay tariffs for imported goods and trade barriers would be removed.

Meanwhile, there remains some anxiety over how a free trade market might affect Tonga.

Business people at the meeting could see the advantage of no tariffs, but the question was raised about how the Tongan government would be able to cope with the loss of tariffs as a significant source of revenue.

How local producers would be affected by the influx of New Zealand and Australian goods, as well as the lack of Tongan exports, was also a question of concern.


28)Air Niugini revises schedule to Hong Kong
By Online Editor
1:32 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2013, Papua New Guinea

Air Niugini has revised its flights schedule for Hong Kong effective Monday, April 1.

PX018 to Hong Kong will depart Port Moresby at 2.15pm on Tuesday and arrives in Hong Kong at 6.45pm.

The return flight departs Hong Kong at 11.50pm and arrives in Port Moresby at 8.10am on Wednesday.

Currently, the Hong Kong flight departs Port Moresby on Monday and returns the next day.

Air Niugini acting chief executive officer Simon Foo said the changes were necessary to give sufficient time for passengers from the domestic ports, especially those from Madang, to make connection.

“We are mindful of the passengers from Madang, most of whom are employees of Ramu NiCo mine and other businesses operating in Madang,” he said.

“This change will provide better connection time for them.”

Meanwhile, Air Niugini flights to Hoskins airport, West New Britain, remained suspended, with PX843 from Rabaul to Hoskins yesterday morning being cancelled.


29)Air Pacific, International banking partners finalise agreement
By Online Editor
1:40 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s national carrier soon to be flying as “Fiji Airways” today announced that its international banking partners have signed a financing agreement for the first of three new A330-200 aircraft the airline is purchasing, with a commitment to finance the two additional aircraft secured.

The financing agreement has been guaranteed by the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) of the British Government with reinsurance being provided by Coface of France and Euler Hermes of Germany.

As previously announced, following a highly robust bidding process Air Pacific selected two major international aviation banks for European export credit financing of its aircraft.  The banking partners, German-based: KfW IPEX-Bank and Helaba, have also committed to further finance the two aircraft scheduled to be delivered to the airline in May and November, 2013.

“Air Pacific is extremely pleased with the support demonstrated by both its banking partners and the European Credit Agencies,” said Nalin Patel, Chairman of Air Pacific.

“This strong vote of confidence from well-known and highly experienced global financial institutions is a solid endorsement of Fiji’s national carrier, gained through the proven success of its turnaround plan, the strength of its management team, and the stability and strength of Fiji and its economy,” the airline’s Chairman noted.

Given the strong financial backing and Air Pacific’s better than expected performance against its turnaround business plan, Fiji’s national carrier announced intentions to repay part of the pre-delivery aircraft loan provided by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) earlier than planned.

“This process follows through on our commitment to secure significant offshore investments to complement FNPF’s and our own,” said Dave Pflieger, Managing Director and CEO of Air Pacific.

“Assuming the Board’s approval of the arrangement, we plan to demonstrate our appreciation to FNPF for their early support of its national airline and Fiji’s tourism industry with an accelerated payment,” Pflieger added.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Air Pacific’s employees, the incredible support of the Board and our shareholders, and the enthusiastic and active participation of our banking, business and trade partners around the world,  in just three short years Air Pacific is not only surviving; it is poised to thrive,” said Pflieger.

“With a turnaround plan that is working, and revitalisation and rebranding programmes well-underway, soon-to-be-flying ‘Fiji Airways’ is ready to successfully compete, grow and achieve its goal to become the preferred airline in the South Pacific.  In doing so, Fiji’s national carrier will contribute to the island nation it is proud to serve by bringing in more overseas visitors, tourists and business people, in turn creating more jobs and strengthening the economy for years to come.  This airline clearly has a bright future in store, and that’s good for Fiji and all Fijians.”  Pflieger said.


30) Air Vanuatu introducing second ATR-72 this year
By Online Editor
1:25 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Vanuatu

Air Vanuatu plans to buy a second ATR72 plane by June this year as part of its strategy to maintain the profit-making position that it now enjoys and to double its 2012 profit this year.

This is according to the airline Chief Executive Officer Joseph Laloyer.  Laloyer said the new ATR would mainly be used on its Suva, Nadi, Noumea and Santo routes.

“With the new ATR72 we plan to double our New Caledonia and Fiji services by operating two Suva, two Nadi and two Noumea flights. At the moment if we increase our Suva and Nadi flights to two each, it will affect our local services,” the CEO said.

Additionally, he said they have also talked with the Government to work on Lonoror, complete work at Norsup and to do some work at Longana to enable Air Vanuatu to be able to operate its ATR72 on these routes as well. All those three airfields have been tar-sealed but still cannot be used by the French-built plane for reasons that include the need for appropriate terminal buildings and basing of fire services.

“We also need one such airfield in Torba to accommodate ATR72 flights then we will cover 95% of the country with our services that would support the provinces such as we are currently doing for Tanna with their tourism and other businesses.

“The ATR is comfortable and it has a lot of space for cargo, and this is the reason why we are trying to get Government to seek assistance from donor partners for this idea,” Laloyer said.

In this regard and on its regional routes, the Air Vanuatu chief said that with an additional ATR72 the airline would also consider activating its part of the Point Beyond agreement with Fiji. With this agreement Air Pacific now uses its Vanuatu/Port Vila service to go on to Solomon Islands.

And Laloyer said Air Vanuatu cannot yet carry out its part of the Point Beyond agreement, but that with an additional ART72 this would enable Air Vanuatu to consider point beyond services such as Vila/Nadi/Nauru or Tonga.

“By June, we want to be operating a fleet of one Boeing 737-800, two ATR72s, two Twin Otters and two Islander aircrafts,” Laloyer said.


31)Concern over use of PNG’s Sovereign Wealth Fund

By Online Editor
1:43 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2013, Papua New Guinea

The head of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for improved transparency of government revenue from natural resources, says it is concerned with how funds from PNG’s sovereign wealth fund (SWF) will be used.

Jonas Moberg, the head of EITI, said PNG was a resource-rich country, with some of the region’s largest oil, gas, and mining resources, and transparency about how much the government received from these resources – including the SWF – would be a key step to ensure that all Papua New Guineans benefited.

He met with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to discuss a number of topics, including the SWF.

“The prime minister talked about the importance of getting it right with the sovereign wealth fund to ensure that there is a robust regulatory framework,” Moberg told reporters at the US Embassy on Wednesday.

“I take note that there are a number of countries around the world that put sovereign wealth fund and the implementation of the EITI as two important pillars sitting alongside each other.

“Having a high degree of transparency in a string of regulatory environment is very important for the sovereign wealth fund.”

Moberg was in the country on Tuesday and Wednesday this week as the PNG government considered whether to implement the EITI.

The EITI is the global standard for improved transparency of government revenue from natural resources, currently implemented by 37 countries.

“The EITI provides global standard for transparency, but the process will be locally-owned and can be shaped to meet local needs,” Moberg said.

“The implementation of the EITI sends a strong signal to industry, investors and the community at large that the government is committed to transparency and accountability.


32)Vanuatu May Begin Exporting Limestone To New Caledonia
SAS Goro Mines looking to source materials for nickel mining

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 14, 2013) – The potential for Vanuatu to export limestone to New Caledonia for use at SAS Goro Mines is very high considering the quality and quantity of the mineral at Vothal near Port Olry on Santo. This is according to the Director of the Department of Geology, Mines and Rural Water supply, Chris Ioan.

Mr. Ioan said it was for this reason that the directors of the landowners of SAS Goro Mines made a recent visit to the country two weeks ago. During this trip the delegation visited Vothal, the site of the limestone where they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the landowners, and to see how the limestone can be exported to New Caledonia.

“To facilitate this export possibility, we would require a legislation, on which began consultations last year and have come up with a Quarry Bill which is going before the First Ordinary Session of Parliament starting later month,” Director Ioan said. He added that SAS Goro Mines also require this piece of legislation for the deal in limestone between them and Vanuatu to be possible.

“The next stage is we must go to the Philippines to see their operation and to see how we might be able to develop the principle here in consideration with our topography and weather conditions,” Mr. Ioan said.

In the meantime, government is looking at developing the site where the limestone quarry will be located, by putting in infrastructure including roads, electricity, telephone access and water. All these development stages will need to be completed, before any negotiation on mining of limestone for export to New Caledonia can start, Director Chris Ioan said.

Limestone has two important uses in nickel mining operation. Firstly, limestone is used in the process to extract nickel from the rocks in which the mineral is imbedded. Secondly limestone is used to treat waste from the mines or tailings.

Vanuatu Daily Post:


33) Cervical Cancer Killing 1,500 Women Yearly In PNG
Medical authorities plan to draft cancer policies soon

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 14, 2013) – The leader of a cervical cancer screening and treatment trial in Papua New Guinea says researchers believe they will have sufficient data within the next few months to make the drafting of definitive policy possible.

The head of science at PNG’s Institute of Medical Research, Dr. Andrew Vallely, says cervical cancer kills 1,500 women a year, more than any other cancer, a rate among the highest in the world.

He says Pap smear screening has worked very well in urban areas over the last decade but is not as successful in rural parts of the country where the majority of women live and can be difficult to locate.

Dr. Vallely says a simultaneous screening and treatment early intervention program being trialed in the Highlands is likely to be rolled out across PNG.

“I think finally we now feel that all of us together are getting to the stage where we’ll soon have the data that can help policy makers develop definitive policy in these areas both for primary prevention, which is vaccination and also secondary prevention, so screening and early treatment.”

Vallely says researchers are also looking at how much of the cervical cancer-causing type of the HPV virus is present in the community.

Radio New Zealand International:

34) 150 Cases Of Dengue Reported Daily In New Caledonia
4,600 have contracted illness since last October

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 14, 2013) – New Caledonia’s Ministry of Health says every day 150 people are being diagnosed with dengue fever.

The head of Public Health, Dr. Jean Paul Grangeon, says improved testing means everyone presenting dengue symptoms, such as high fever and body aches, has a blood test to confirm the illness.

He says the analysis has the benefits of both better vector control of mosquitoes in outbreak areas and earlier treatment for patients with complications.

He says 4,600 people have contracted dengue since the season began in October last year.

“Well we’re detecting biologically 150 cases a day. Which is quite a lot but we’re doing it to each case so that’s why there are so many cases being notified because we’re going to each person who’s got fever and joint pain, we’re doing some analysis and blood tests and that’s why we are having so many cases.”

Dr. Grangeon says the weekly number of people detected with the disease has been similar over the past three weeks.

Radio New Zealand International:

35)PNG nurses issue warning over housing problems

Posted at 03:31 on 15 March, 2013 UTC

Papua New Guinea’s Nurses Association has warned the government that its members will scale down services if it fails to address their housing problems.

The newspaper, The National, reports the Association president Sr Eimi Kaptigau as saying the scaling down of services means that nurses would work only one shift from 8am to 4pm daily instead of three shifts.

The association has been holding its national executive council committee meeting in Port Moresby, and is unhappy about the delay in government’s delivery of a seven million US dollar housing project at Gerehu in the capital.

There are also petitions from the nurses association chapters in Morobe and Eastern Highlands urging authorities to address various issues affecting nurses, including housing.

The health minister Michael Malabag has indicated to the association that he would take the matter to the prime minister and the housing minister to address the association’s grievances.

Radio New Zealand International


36) French Language Celebrations in Fiji

By Online Editor
1:26 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2013, Fiji

Next week francophones around the globe will be celebrating the French Language and Francophonie Week (Semaine de la Langue Française et de la Francophonie).

The event, created in 1998 as International French-Speakers Day (Journée Internationale de la Francophonie), was a day set aside on which the French-speaking world – some 220 million people across 33 countries on 5 continents – could celebrate their common bond, as well as embrace their diversity.

Here in Fiji from the 18th to the 22nd March, the Embassy of France and the Alliance Française de Suva (French Language and Culture Centre) joins in with various events organised to promote, encourage and celebrate the French Language.

Events include public French film screenings at the Fiji National University (FNU) and the University of the South Pacific (USP); private French film screenings at Suva Grammar and Marist Brothers High Schools; as well as movie, quiz and cocktail nights at Alliance française de Suva.

“It is a great time to, not only celebrate the French language and culture, but increase the local community’s awareness and appreciation of the French-speaking world,” stated the Alliance Française Director Gaëlle Le Breton.

French is currently the only European language offered as a course at FNU and USP, as well as at Suva Grammar and Marist Brothers High Schools respectively.

With the advancement of globalisation and its resulting opportunities for Pacific Islanders, the ability to speak French is an added bonus. As reiterated on many occasions by the Ambassador of France Mr. Gilles Montagnier, “French Language studies are essential for anyone looking to broaden their horizons and opportunity base.”

“There is currently an increasing number of Fijians and Pacific islanders living and working in France and Europe right now – from professional rugby players and military personnel to United Nations employees and diplomats,” Ambassador Montagnier said.

French is one of the official languages of the United Nations; and, apart from France, is also the official language of 32 states and spoken by 220 million people worldwide – a figure that will continue to increase globally. International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) estimates there will be 715 million French speakers by 2050.

France, through her territories, is a Pacific Island country and learning each others language is the first step towards better understanding of each others cultures and regional integration.

Vasemaca TUISAWAU / Public Affairs Adviser
Embassy of France, 7th Floor BSP Life Centre, Suva, FIJI ISLANDS
Ph: (679) 331 0526 or 27 / Direct line: (679) 322 3918 / Fax: (679) 322 3901
Email: / Website:
Facebook: / Twitter:


Climate Change & Envirometal problems:

37) Temotu Still Facing Challenges After Disasters In Solomons
High rainfall providing water, but making camp life uncomfortable

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 14, 2013) – Thirty days after a remote region of Solomon Islands was hit by an earthquake and tsunami, permanent housing and sanitation still pose a challenge.

The National Disaster Management Office in Honiara says over US$25 million have been raised by government, international donors and local communities.

The magnitude 8.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck on February 6 claimed 10 lives and displaced over 4,500 people.

Chairman of the National Disaster Council, Frank Wickham, told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific from Honiara that affected communities in Temotu province have been resilient.

“The communities have resorted to their food gardens, most of which are above the area of the tsunami and were not directly affected,” he said. “We also have food supplies there, to keep them going, to supplement their own local food supplies.”

Mr. Wickham said the water supply to the main township had been restored, and water was being carted to camps that were established for people who lost their homes.

The area is currently experiencing high rainfall, and Mr. Wickham said the Council was trying to increase water catchment.

“Very high rainfall is making life a bit more difficult and uncomfortable for the communities in camps,” he said.

“We’re trying now to move into the phase we’ve just re-established a humanitarian action plan for the next 60 days with the development partners and the government ministries and NGOs.”

Mr. Wickham said the Ministry of Health together with the Solomon Islands Red Cross and other partners were monitoring health and sanitation closely.

But he said the wider community response in the Solomon Islands had been “overwhelming” since the disaster.

“There are a range of support initiatives being carried here in the capital Honiara, and also in other parts of the country, to support the Temotu people, on Santa Cruz and it’s been quite overwhelming.”

Radio Australia:

38) Samoa gets aid boost after Cyclone Evan

Posted at 03:32 on 15 March, 2013 UTC

Samoa is set to receive an aid boost after being hit by Cyclone Evan in December, with the New Zealand government and the World Bank announcing funding increases.

New Zealand has pledged a further three million US dollars to boost tourism, as a way to secure employment and help Samoa prepare for the UN Small Islands Developing States conference next year.

The World Bank is offering another 20 million US dollars from its Crisis Response Window.

The World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands, Franz Drees-Gross, says the funds will be used to rebuild transport infrastructure.

He says they will also help Samoa repair roads, sea walls, as well as assist those in the agriculture sector.

“As you know, about 30,000 people lost crops in the cyclone, mostly due to wind and salt water intrusion, so we’ll basically be providing people, through the Samoan Government, with seeds and tools, also some new livestock basically to jumpstart some of their livelihoods”

The World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands Franz Drees-Gross.

Radio New Zealand International


39) Fiji Warriors win again in round three of PRC
By Online Editor
12:55 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2013, Australia

Fiji Warriors prevented a clean sweep by Australian teams in round three of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2013 on Tuesday, the defending champions battling to a 27-22 win over Rebel Rising in Melbourne.

The other matches saw Tonga A lose 32-18 to the Australian Rugby Union’s Sydney based National Academy, Samoa A go down 34-11 to the Emirates Western Force A team and PRC debutants Junior Japan overwhelmed 76-26 by the Brisbane based National Academy.

This means that as the three Pacific Island teams head off to New Zealand for matches against the country’s five Super Rugby development teams, only Fiji Warriors and Samoa A have tasted victory on Australian soil.

Samoa A were unable to make it back-to-back wins in 2013, having edged Sydney Academy 33-24 last time out, after conceding four tries to the Western Force’s development team in the first match of a PRC double header at Ballymore in Brisbane.

The Australian side led only 10-6 after the first quarter with scrum half Chris Eaton scoring the only try and full back James So’oialo keeping Samoa A in touch with two penalties. Second row Rory Walton increased that lead with a 35th minute try to send the Australians in leading 17-6.

Within two minutes of the restart hooker Ben Whittaker had crossed for his side’s third try , but any thoughts of the match turning into a one-sided affair proved unfounded as it was more than 20 minutes before the Western Force A team scored a fourth try through Ed Stubbs.

Tough start for Junior Japan

A fifth quickly followed through replacement Richard Hardwicks, but it was Samoa A who had the final say in the match with replacement Oneone Faafou scoring with less than a minute remaining on the clock.

The Junior Japan side is a mix of University students, Top League players and a handful of High School students and they found live difficult against the Brisbane Academy, conceding 12 tries in the second match at Ballymore.

Fly half Jake McIntyre opened the scoring with a third minute try, but Junior Japan hit back almost immediately through wing Takaaki Nakzuru and took the lead when Takuya Yamasawa added the conversion.

The Brisbane Academy, though, ran in six further tries before half-time through Scott Malolua, Jamie Taulagi (2), Alex Toolis and Mitch Felsman (2) with Yamasawa converting his own try for Junior Japan in between.

Samu Kerevi added his name to the scoreboard early in the second half and in the final quarter replacement Harry Parker claimed a hat-trick and Felsman crossed for his third try. Junior Japan did manage to secure a try bonus point with Takumi Mikami and Yamasawa touching down.

Junior Japan will stay on in Australia to face Reds College XV on Monday and then Sydney Academy on 23 March, the Australian series is over for the three Pacific Island teams as they cross the Tasman for the New Zealand series of the key IRB development tournament.

The opening round in New Zealand on Monday will see the Fiji Warriors tackle the Highlanders Development XV at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, Tonga A meet the Hurricanes Development XV in Wellington and Samoa A face the Blues Development XV at Waitemata Park in west Auckland.


40) France and Samoa reveal hands for Hong Kong
By Online Editor
1:42 pm GMT+12, 14/03/2013, Samoa

Samoa and France  are the latest sides to announce their squads for the 2013 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Both squads will travel to round six of the HSBC Sevens World Series on 22-24 March and also the Tokyo Sevens a week later.

Dubai Sevens champions Samoa, who sit third in the Series standings behind New Zealand and Fiji, welcome Paul Perez, the player to score their first try in the Dubai final against New Zealand, back into the side.

Faamoni Lalomilo’s side finished third in round five, the USA Sevens, and face matches with New Zealand Sevens champions England, Portugal and Scotland.

France, who are fifth in the standings and one place behind South Africa, will be without the injured Terry Bouhraoua and face matches with USA, Kenya and New Zealand in Hong Kong.

Samoa squad: Afa Aiono (c), Levi Asi Faamatala, Lio Lolo, Faatoina Autagavaia, Meki Magele, Alatasi Tupou, Patrick Faapale, Sani Niue, Lolo Lui, Tulolo Tulolo, Reupena Levasa, Paul Perez.

France squad: Paul Albaladejo, Steeve Barry, Julien Candelon, Manoel Dall Igna, Renaud Delmas, Vincent Deniau, Jean Baptiste Gobolet, Vincent Inigo, Gilles Pierre Lakafia, Jean Baptiste Mazoue, Stephen Parez, Maxime Payen, Thibaut Zambelli.


41) Scotland Sevens supersize for Hong Kong
By Online Editor
12:49 pm GMT+12, 13/03/2013, United Kingdom

A squad of 18 Scotland Sevens players will travel out to Hong Kong for the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series next weekend on 22-24 March.

Every player named at this stage is in contention for the World Series event, with coach Stephen Gemmell announcing a 12/6 split early next week, with the six overflow players competing for the Scottish Barbarians at the HKFC Tens on 20-21 March.

“It’s great that we can take 18 players out to Hong Kong through our relationship with Hong Kong Scottish and the Hong Kong Rugby Union. Having an extended squad will help our preparations,” said Stephen Gemmell, who was recently re-appointed as Scotland Sevens head coach.

“We will announce who will play in which tournament next week. For the six players who will play in the 10s tournament, it will be a good opportunity to train as part of the Sevens squad and then compete in the 10s to enhance their game in an international competition.

“Our performances in the last two World Series events have been good and we have finished in the top six. The players who got us there are involved again and they very much deserve that chance.

“The additional players have also trained very well recently and for some of them they are travelling with us for the first time.

“We’re still in an important battle in the World Series, where we currently sit in 12th place, but we need to build on the good stuff from the last two tournaments and make sure we achieve greater consistency and continue to strive for World Series points that are vital.”

Making their first trips with the squad will be Jed-Forest and Scotland 7s elite development player Lewis Young, Watsonians’ Jack Ferguson, Stewarts-Melville’s Liam Steele and Doncaster Knights’ Joe Nayacavou.

Also from the club game Melrose’s Callum Anderson returns to the squad, having played in Edinburgh in 2011, and Kelso’s Darren Gillespie, who was involved in Dubai and South Africa this season.

In Hong Kong the Scots face pool matches against Portugal, Samoa and England.

Scotland wider squad of 18: Alex Glashan (Scotland 7s EDP), Andrew Turnbull (Scotland 7s), *Callum Anderson (Melrose), Chris Dean (Scotland 7s EDP), Colin Gregor (Scotland 7s), Colin Shaw (Scotland 7s), *Darren Gillespie (Kelso), *Jack Ferguson (Watsonians), James Fleming (Scotland 7s), James Johnstone (Glasgow Warriors), Joe Nayacavou (Doncaster Knights), Lewis Young (Scotland 7s EDP), *Liam Steele (Stewart’s-Melville FP), Mark Robertson (Scotland 7s), Michael Fedo (Scotland 7s), Michael Maltman (Scotland 7s), Russell Weir (Scotland 7s) and Struan Dewar (Scotland 7s).


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